What Is Kiliwa language

The kiliwa language ( k’olew , also called kiliwi or quiligua [ 1 ] ) is one of the languages spoken in Mexico , specifically by the kiliwa people


The Kiliwa language was widely studied by Mauricio J. Mixco, who published texts in Kiliwa, as well as a dictionary and syntax studies.

Still in the mid-1900s, Mixco reported that members of the native community universally spoke Kiliwa as their first language, with many Kiliwas also bilingual in Paipai. At the beginning of the 21st century, Kiliwa is still spoken; a 2000 census reported 52 speakers. However, language is considered to be in danger of extinction.

Kiliwa is a language of the Yuman Family Language Summit, held annually since 2001. [ 2 ]


Kiliwa is the southernmost representative of the Yuman family, and that one is more distinct from the other languages, which constitute the Yuman Nucleus. Kiliwa’s neighbors to the south, Cochimí spoke a language or a family of languages ​​that was probably closely related, but not within the Yuman family. Consequently, the Kiliwa find themselves in the historic “center of gravity” for the differentiation between Yuman and Cochimí and within the Yuman.

Historians of the previous linguistic situation do not agree whether Kiliwa’s linguistic ancestors are more likely to have migrated north to the Baja California peninsula, separately from the ancestors of the Cochimí and Central Yumans, or if they differed from these groups. The controversial technique of gloto-chronology suggests that Kiliwa’s separation from the Yuman Nucleus may have occurred some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.


Morphology in the Kiliwa language consists of many affixes and clitics. More of these are present in verbs than in nouns. These affixes are usually untouched and added to a modified root.


Kiliwa is a verb-final language that generally follows the subject-object-verb order. Dependent object clause must be found before the verb, while relative or adjective clauses appear to the right of the noun that they modify


The following Kiliwa toponyms are from the map made by Mixco (2000: 70).


  • xaʔ kwpan – Agua Caliente
  • xpiʔ kwnaan – San Isidro
  • mxwaa – Los Coches
  • pnyil – Santo Domingo
  • kwʔiy yuwuʔ – San Quintin
  • xwiym xaʔ – San Felipe
  • ʔipaʔ cʔaa – Tijuana
  • xwa nymat – Mexicali
  • xaʔtay hwatuʔ – Ensenada
  • yuwl ʔmat – Santa Catarina

Nature spots

  • kwʔiy yaquʔ – Salinas
  • xyil – Cañón de la Esperanza
  • xyaaw – Paso San Matias Pass
  • kwmsalp – Colnett Point


  • ʔmuw wiiy – Cerro Borrego
  • nyaay wiiy – a peak in the south of Cerr Cerro Borrego
  • muw waʔ wiiy – Cerro Salvatierra
  • ʔqhaay spkwin – a peak in the south of Cerro Salvatierra
  • mt waay walu wiiy – Picacho de Diablo
  • ʔxaal haq – Sierra de San Pedro Martir
  • kwnyiil wiiy – Cerro Colorado, Tijuana

Bodies of Water

  • xaʔ tay – Pacific Ocean
  • cwilu tay – Arroyo Grande
  • Pcmat pcux – Riacho San Jose
  • mswan – Riacho San Telmo
  • xmir – Rio San Rafael
  • xaʔ hyil – Colorado River



Lip Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
flat labialized flat labialized
Nasal m n ɲ
Occlusive P t k q ʔ
Fricative Deaf s x H H
Sonora β ð ɣ ɣʷ
Vibrant r
Approx. l j w


i, u, ii, uu
a, aa


(1) High, (2) Descending, (3) Low


The Paipai language uses the Latin alphabet without the letters F, V, Z; Uses the forms Ch, Ñ and the apostrophe

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